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Yom Kippur and Ashoura: Are Muslims observing a Jewish holiday?

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20.09.2018

On the Gregorian calendar (so named after Pope Gregory XIII) this September, two of the holiest Jewish and Islamic high holidays coincide. On September 10, Jews around the world began their high holidays by commemorating Rosh Hashana which continues for 10 days until September 19, Yom Kippur. It is on that day that Muslims in general, and Shia in particular, commemorate the sacred day of Tasu'a and then a day later - Ashoura - the 9th and 10th of the Islamic month of Muharram respectively.

Both the Jewish and Islamic calendars are lunar while the Gregorian calendar on which they are being cast is solar. The lunar calendar is 11 days shorter than the solar and for that reason, though stable on their own respective calendars, Jewish and Islamic holidays appear to "roam" aimlessly on the Christian calendar.

None of this is "the fault" of either the Jewish or the Islamic calendar. Given the way in which the Christian calendar has been imperially universalised, the other two may look erratic and confusing, but Jewish and Islamic high holy days are perfectly logical, routine, and regular.

Both Jewish and Muslim observers have noticed this proximity between Yom Kippur and Ashoura. On the occasion of the two holidays coinciding in 2016, Rabbi Allen S Maller noted how "both holy days occur on the 10th day of the month, Muharram for Muslims and Tishri for Jews."

By way of explanation, he adds: "In ancient times the two branches of Abraham's house followed the same lunar-solar system of intercalating an additional month 7 times in a cycle of 19 years. Thus, the 7th Jewish month of Tishri coincided with Muharram; and the 'Ashura (10th) of Muharram synchronized with the 10th of Tishri, the Jewish Day of Atonement - a day of fast."

On the occasion of a similar concurrence in 2015, Haroon Moghul , a Muslim American writer and a fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, wrote in a piece for CNN: "If you're wondering why Muslims would celebrate a Jewish holiday, that's because neither [Prophet] Mohammed nor the Early Muslims saw themselves as part of a new faith."

Both Maller and Moghul cite an authentic prophetic hadith, according to which Prophet Muhammad once encountered Jews in Medina fasting on the 10th of Muharram/Tishrei and joined them in their fast.

Thus the origin of this overlap in tradition is traced back to the time of the Prophet himself.

The similarities, correspondences and affinities of such aspects of Islam and Judaism are only strange or bizarre to those who have fallen into the trap of falsely projecting the Zionist colonial adventurism in Palestine backwards onto history and positing an entrenched hostility between Jews and Muslims.

Like Christianity, Islam is deeply influenced by Judaism and has an even stronger proximity to its theological monotheism. This is not a matter of opinion or ideological position. It is a matter of historical fact.

The infamous statement of former US........

© Al Jazeera